Several Port St. Lucie homeowners praised plans to widen Interstate 95’s off-ramps at the Gatlin Boulevard/Tradition Parkway interchange, but panned the recent clearing of brush buffering the highway.
Florida Department of Transportation anticipates starting construction on the $3 million project in fall 2022 and finishing by summer 2024, records show. The off-ramp improvements will reduce traffic backups at the Tradition Parkway exit when there are events at Tradition Square, such as concerts, fireworks and food trucks, officials and homeowners said.
The new road capacity is also needed to handle growth in western Port St. Lucie, where plans call for the development of 38,000 residences and 16 million square feet of business space in the next three decades.
Several southwest Port St. Lucie homeowners said the interchange improvements will make their travels easier.
“Southbound, there are a lot of times you can see traffic backed up trying to get off during peak times,” said Bill Murbach, of Alminar Street. “So this is going to help that a lot.”
But Murbach and other homeowners who attended a Jan. 28 public meeting about the project said they were unhappy FDOT cleared a vegetative buffer along the highway, exposing their yards to harsher sounds, brighter lights and less pleasant views.
“They came in and removed all the (Brazilian) pepper trees,” said Gail Kleemann, an Alminar Street homeowner. “We’ve been asking nicely for two years to try to get a buffer put back in place, just at least replace what they took out.”
Another Alminar Street homeowner, Wayne Phillips, said noise levels from the traffic have topped 60 decibels in his backyard since the buffer was cleared.
Port St. Lucie Traffic Manager Heath Stockton said the city would work with the homeowners to seek state money for a new landscape buffer along the highway. Port St. Lucie may also consider planting a buffer along the city drainage pond between the highway and the homes.
FDOT’s project will increase the efficiency of the I-95 off-ramps onto Tradition Parkway and Gatlin Boulevard, Stockton said.
Southbound I-95 will be widened to provide a 12-foot auxiliary lane leading to the Tradition Parkway exit, records show. The southbound off-ramp will be widened to add a right-turn lane and a left-turn lane.
The I-95 northbound off-ramp to the Gatlin Boulevard exit will be widened to add a third left-turn lane, records show. Gatlin Boulevard and Tradition Parkway will also be widened to handle three lanes from the off-ramps.
“It’s going to be a great safety improvement,” Stockton said. “Their goal was to minimize any traffic backing up onto 95 because of traffic on the off-ramps. I think through the addition of these lanes they’re going to accomplish that.”
“It’s the gateway into the western part of the city and all the development,” Stockton said about the Tradition Parkway exit. “It’s going to be absolutely vital to get this done. I’m glad FDOT had the foresight to do it now before the dire need.”